Transcending Self and Other Through Akogare (Desire) The English Language and the Internationalization of Higher Education in Japan Author: Chisato Nonaka

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26 Sep 2018
New Perspectives on Language and Education
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


The Japanese concept of akogare has become well known in TESOL-related literature in recent years, usually in the context of interracial sexual desire. In this far-reaching new study of the internationalization of Japanese Higher Education, Chisato Nonaka uses akogare as both an analytical lens and the object of enquiry, and ultimately reconceptualises it as the creation of a space where individuals negotiate and transcend their ethnic, national, racial, gender or linguistic identities. The book innovatively engages with the often controversial binary of Japanese/non-Japanese, and demonstrates how Japan (often thought of as a homogenous nation) may be at a critical crossroads where long-held assumptions about a singular ‘Japanese identity’ no longer hold true. The book has profound implications for how ‘internationalization’ can mean more than just the use of English.


A multifaceted portrayal of language learner motivation and identity in Japanese higher education, this book provides a wide-angle lens on gender, ethnicity, self and other in the age of internationalization via the Japanese concept of akogare as a transcultural phenomenon. It is a must-read not only for ELT professionals in Japan but for anyone interested in the (re)appropriation of otherness in the construction of multilingual selves among contemporary language learners.

- Claudia Kunschak, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Chisato Nonaka successfully tackles a much-debated topic, kokusaika (internationalization) of Japan’s higher education, through the window of akogare (desire or dream) of individual learners of English. The findings highlight the importance of individual space for personal self-negotiation, and Chisato’s stories warn against the institutional approach to collective Japaneseness as a core value of Japan’s internationalization.

- Kayoko Hashimoto, The University of Queensland, Australia

Nonaka offers a valuable contribution to the literature on the internationalization of higher education by digging into what this means in the context of Japan. She masterfully complicates this seemingly straightforward idea by demonstrating – through extensive examples and deft analysis – how it is bound up with a sense of desire, notions of the self and otherness, and the idea of the West. The book offers a refreshingly multi-level, multi-faceted, and philosophical treatment of this taken-for-granted concept.

- D. Brent Edwards Jr., University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Author Biography:

Chisato Nonaka is an Associate Professor in the International Student Center, Kyushu University, Japan. Her research interests include issues of linguistic, racial, ethnic, national, class and gender-related identities, particularly in transnational education contexts.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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